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song writing process

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by bmxerss, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. bmxerss


    Oct 31, 2011
    im the bassist in a new band my friends and i made and i have alot of song (lyrics only) written, 7 i think. i was telling my guitarist about them and he thinks that he should make up a song with only guitar in it then i write lyrics to fit the sound, were i say lyrics then guitar ect. whats the right way to do it?
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  2. There are so many right ways to write songs. Michael Jackson used to hum out the various instruments of a song. I prefer the classical composer model where they modeled all the music in their head and just wrote it all down -- but few could do that today.
  3. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    There is no right or wrong way to write a song.

    All of the original bands I've been in either:
    A) One person write the majority of a song. Lyrics & a good amount of music. Then the band comes in and makes changes, writes more complex parts, etc.
    B) The singer writes lyrics, the band writes music. The two get fused together when possible.

    Jim Morrison wrote poetry. It worked for The Doors.
  4. RickeyC


    Jan 17, 2011
    There is no write (pun) or wrong way, but I always hear and have experienced) that it is easier to write the lyrics first and then music to accompany the words of the song..
  5. bmxerss


    Oct 31, 2011
    i know exactly how i want the song to sound, but i dont know how to tell him how is should sound, other than making guitar noises haha
  6. My old band wrote about 60-70 songs. Some good, some passable, some really ******. But my favorite ones (to play and listen to) are the ones that we wrote together, by jamming out the music and forming a song around an idea or a couple of different ideas. Those songs always continued to evolve in a live setting also, and we were always coming up with new endings, new intros, or new bridges etc.

    The songs where an individual came up with a chord structure on an acoustic guitar and wrote down lyrics were never as good, IMO. They were predictable, easy, and always stayed the same. They were also usually mid-tempo 4/4 snoozers.
  7. I really like threads like this. However, as a bassist I feel kinda screwed when it comes to song writing. I mean, I have written some great material (all in D and C for some reason) on the bass that's as challenging as it is easy on the ears.. but, when it comes to overall song structure, lyrics, and some progression.. I kinda lose it after like the second chorus. So, all my licks become warm-ups for me before practice.

    In my band we play indie and modern rock like Death Cab, but most of my "songs" are more towards the ambient progressive sound like Tool. They don't fit in our setlist and I wouldn't think a side project could be successful with 10 half finished basslines. Maybe we should just leave song structure to the band leader...
  8. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    I say try writing songs in every way you can imagine. I don't like to limit myself to just one technique.
  9. mcblahflooper94


    Aug 31, 2011
    It's much easier to have an idea what the song sounds like (instruments) and then add the lyrics. IMO, lyrics come last, and it just... pieces together.
  10. maxiegrant

    maxiegrant Bassist in Transition

    Nov 26, 2007
    Sellersburg, IN
    I have two rules for songwriting.

    #1, there are no rules
    #2, don't be afraid to use the rules, after all

    I find that a song can come to me from just words, just melody, words with melody, chords with no melody, or even beats. Sometimes I write things down, sometimes I record the bass part on a phone, sometimes I work up a whole demo around a lick before i know anything else. Sometimes I come up with the whole song in a few minutes. Sometimes I rewrite the lyrics for a year before they are right. Sometimes I write on the bass. Sometimes on an acoustic guitar. Sometimes on an electric guitar. Sometimes on the keyboard. Sometimes I write each part of the song. Sometimes I only write part of an instrument. Sometimes I put in filler and explicitly say "this part is crappy, try to fix it if you can."

    I try not to follow any particular pattern in composing. This also means I rarely re-use a feel, chord progression, riff, or lyrical notion. I figure each song is a unique pattern and I guess never doing the same thing twice the same way helps.

    I have lately stripped most of my composing down to very bare bassline/vocal demos, often recorded live into whatever is handy, and turned it over to the band for fleshing out of parts. But I've noticed some of the songs are starting to sound very similar, meaning the repetitive approach is getting repetitive results, so I'm going to start putting a little more control into it for awhile, to make sure we don't get stale. I will try to make it a challenge for the other guys . . . to stretch out their own styles.

    The ultimate guide to songwriting success is does this move you? Do you mean it? If the song isn't important to you, your listeners won't think it is either.
  11. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Do you know how to play any guitar? If you do, try to show him some of the ideas if you can.
  12. Are you the bass player? If you are, then tell him, "like this, only on a guitar" and play what you have in your head.

    Personally, I find it a little easier to write the notes down, before trying to play it on any instrument
  13. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    As already stated, whatever way works is the best way to write songs.

    For me, lyrics first is the hardest route. It's rare that I have any success like that. I usually come up with a groove or guitar part, and then the rest follows. I scat sing melodies over what I've come up with, and lyrics start sort of evolving. Just what works best for me.

    If I were you I'd seriously consider learning some guitar. Enough to at least present your ideas. Could probably do it with keyboards too. A cheap casio could fake a guitar part enough to give someone an idea. Come to think of it, so can a bass.

    OK. New answer. :) Practice communicating with your guitarist until you find a musical language that works. And write songs your way, and his way. Continue in whatever method works best.
  14. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    For me, the hardest part about writing a song is coming up with a decent song idea, ie, what is the song going to be about?

    Once I have an idea, lyrics and music to fit the idea come easier, and it doesn't matter which is first.

    Musical ideas can spark song ideas, but it's pretty hard to write lyrics without knowing what you are going for in a song, IMO.
  15. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Here^ Some great, classic songs were wrote in minutes some took years. Some songs were written with bands or musicains some were wrote on napkins,scraps of paper with no instrument but with a melody in ones mind. Get your idea with the music or lyrics and let it grow.
  16. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Just like this. Since their your lyrics, take it to the next step and write the music on bass. Show it to the band and say "it goes like this"
  17. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    +1 to learning guitar or piano. It makes conveying music ideas A LOT easier, and I personally find them easier instruments to write on.
  18. mikegug


    Oct 31, 2011
    Sometimes the singer (no musical training) will have some lyrics and we build on the melody she provides. Other times the bass player writes a lick on guitar and we build on that.

    Try writing on instruments you don't play as well. It'll help you break out a bit.
  19. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    For me, I write the music and words seperately. Sometimes I get a word or phrasing that clicks and go from there. Sometimes I can be noodling around on guitar or bass and out comes a riff or progression. When something fits together pretty well, then I either tweak the words to fit some music or tweak a note or two to make the music fit the words. For me, it is usually fixing the words to mate better with the music. But I digress, that is how it works for me.
  20. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    The band I'm in work like this: I write some riffs on bass and put them together as a song. I take them to rehersal and the guitarist and drummer add their parts, as well as we discuss the song structure and maybe add some. When the song is finished like that, we hand it over to the singer and keyboard player to add the rest.
    That's just how we work at the moment, with time we will try to make song writing more of a collective thing.

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